Friday, May 11, 2012

Won Ton Soup

Any type of soup is wonderful, but there is something special about Won Ton Soup. I read somewhere that won ton means to swallow a cloud. I've never thought of it that way, but it pretty accurately describes the soft pillows that float in this lovely Asian soup.
   I get most of my ingredients for this soup from the Asian isle at the grocery store. I buy a couple cans of each ingredient at a time, so that I have enough in my cupboards to make this dinner any day of the week.
   The soup itself is very quick to assemble - 10 minutes at most. What takes the longest is making the won tons. But, good news, you can always make them ahead of time and freeze them for later use.  I made my won tons in the morning and then just quickly threw the soup together before dinner. It worked out well.
    This is one of my husband's favorite soups, but I must confess that I don't always make it the same way. Depending on my mood and what I have on hand, the recipe changes some.  I did measure everything today for your benefit, but please feel free to add/subtract ingredients and amounts to fit your tastes.

Here's how I did it:
  I put about 1/2 pound of ground turkey into a bowl. (You could use chicken or pork, or even shrimp if that is what you have.)

I grated in about 1 inch of ginger. (Yes, it's frozen. I find that when I buy a big ginger root at the store, if I peel it all and then freeze what I don't use it lasts much longer. It is also much easier to grate when it's frozen.  I just grate what I need and the rest goes back into a zip top bag in the freezer for another time.)

I also grated in 1 small garlic clove,

and about 1/4 of an onion.

Then I added 1 tsp of low sodium soy sauce,

and 1/2 tsp of toasted sesame oil.

A few grinds of black pepper and that's it.

I mixed it all together and set it aside.

Next, I got my won ton wrappers out of the fridge. You can find these in the dairy and deli-meat section of the grocery store.

Now I set up my work area. I lay out 15 won ton wrappers. (Be very careful when separating them from each other out of the package. They are very fragile and tear easily.)
I put a bowl of water on one side and my meat mixture on the other.

I use a teaspoon and scoop a little meat ball.

One teaspoon of meat goes in the center of each won ton wrapper.

Then I dip a finger or two into the water,

and wet two edges of the won ton wrappers.
I usually wet the top and one side.

Then I fold the dry sides to match up with the wet sides (you want to make a triangle).

Start around the filling and press the dough together, getting all the air out of the middle. If you don't get the air out, it could explode when it cooks.

I'm sorry this picture is so dark. I should have turned on a light (but I hate having lights on when the sun is out. I feel like I'm waisting electricity.)
When all your won tons are folded into triangles, they look like this.

Next, I take one won ton in my hand so that the middle point of the triangle is up. I fold one of the side points in, and put a little water on it. . .

then I fold the other side point over the first, and press them together.

It looks like this when it's done. You don't need to do these extra folds. You can just leave them in triangles, but I find that the points like to break off into the soup when I do that. So, fold or don't fold. It's up to you. :)

I repeat the folding with every won ton and I do three batches (to make 45 won tons). I make a big enough pot of soup that I use all of these won tons, but if you are afraid that you won't then you can lay them flat on a cookie sheet - not touching - and put them into the freezer. Once they are individually frozen, put them into a labeled zip top freezer bag and freeze them.  Now you can take out as much or as little as you would like to make, and save the rest for another time.
- Another note, if you are not making these right before dinner, you should separate them before you put them into the fridge. I didn't and the ones on the bottom got all stuck together and soggy. They still tasted good, but looked not so pretty.

Now for the soup assembly.
I put 13 cups of my Homemade Chicken Stock (or chicken broth) into a large soup pot, with 1 cup of water (this is to even out the salt from the soy sauce later). This is enough for dinner tonight and a left over lunch tomorrow.

I grate in about 2 inches of ginger root,

and one clove of garlic.

I add 1 Tbsp of soy sauce (low sodium)

and 1 Tbsp of lime juice.

The soup is perfectly fine just as is. You could drop your won tons and be done, but we like a lot of veggies in ours, so I keep going.
I peel one medium carrot and then thinly slice it on the bias (it looks pretty this way).

Now it's time for my canned goods. I use baby corn (whole or cut is up to you), sliced or "strip" bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, and mushrooms. (I like straw mushrooms, but I used my last can to make my Simple "Thai" Coconut Soup so I'm using shitake today.)

If you didn't look at the cans close enough when you were at the grocery store, and accidentally picked up whole water chestnuts instead of sliced - like me - you'll need to slice them.

All the veggies go into the pool and when the broth comes up to a boil you are ready to drop your won tons.
You want to place them in gently, one at a time. Be careful, you don't want to get burned.

Keep the water boiling over medium low heat, and when the won tons float they are done!  (I always cut one open just to be sure, but they are always done.)

Now just turn off the heat, and add 1/2 Tbsp of toasted sesame oil.

Serve hot and garnish with some chopped scallions or chives. This tastes just as good as the ones from our nearest Chinese and Thai restaurants. SO good!

Here's the recipe:

Won Ton Soup

Won Tons:
1/2 pound of ground meat (we use lean ground turkey)
1 inch grated fresh ginger
1 clove of garlic, grated
1 tsp soy sauce (we use low sodium)
1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil
freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
1 12 oz package of won ton wrappers

13 cups of Homemade Chicken Stock or chicken broth
1 cup of water
2 inches of freshly grated or minced ginger
1 clove of garlic, minced or grated
1 medium carrot, peeled and thinly sliced on an angle
1 Tbsp soy sauce (low sodium)
1 Tbsp lime juice
1 15 oz can of whole baby corn
1 8 or 4 oz can of straw OR shitake mushrooms, drained 
1 8 oz can of sliced water chestnuts, drained
1 8 oz can of sliced bamboo shoots, drained
1/2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
1/4 cup scallions or chives, chopped

Won tons: Mix the meat, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil and black pepper in a bowl. Set aside. Separate out 15 won ton wrappers and lay out flat onto a work surface. Scoop out 1 tsp of meat and place in the center of each won ton wrapper. Using a bowl of clean water, wet your finger and moisten the top and one side of the won ton wrappers. Fold the two dry sides onto the two wet sides (making a triangle) and press the dough together around the meat filling, making sure to get all the air out. You can leave them in triangles, or fold two corners in and pressing them together with a little water. This makes more of a hat shape.
At this point you can place them on a plate or cookie sheet (not touching) and refrigerate for a couple hours, or freeze for a couple weeks. If you choose to freeze them, place them into a labeled zip-top freezer bag after they are individually frozen.
When the broth is done and boiling, put the won tons in, one at a time, and cook over medium low heat until they float and are cooked through.
Broth: In a large soup pot, add all the ingredients, except for the sesame oil and scallions or chives. Bring up to a boil and then add won tons. Cook over medium low heat until the won tons float and are cooked through. (about 5 minutes) Turn off heat and add the sesame oil
Serve hot, garnished with the scallions or chives.

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